Thursday, April 27, 2006

Control is not a dirty word

So many people get hung up on the idea of control. We have gotten to the point where it has become a bit of a dirty word. I hear about modern t.v. therapists describing people as control-freaks. What does all of this mean? Is control such a bad thing? Self-control?

What is the answer? I don't think that being in control is a bad thing. But, in this day and age, many of us have come to realize that control is not a good thing when you are not the one with it, that is, when you are out of control.

For me, it became really clear recently. I was out of control. And I needed to take control back. Was some of this in my head? Sure. Did that make it any less real? No. Financially, I was not in trouble. Did my partner and I have some debt? Sure. Was that a big deal? Not really. So what was the problem?

Over a short period of time, I was able to put up with almost anything. But, it became clear to me, that due to the current monthly strategy we had, we were spending a large amount of money on interest for our credit cards. And this, while we were putting money in a savings account. And doing the current thing, it would take 32 months for us to pay off the credit cards. And that was not even counting our combined student loan debt or mortgage etc.

This was insane. So, to jump start the process, I took money from the savings and paid off one of the cards. The more expensive one. This, only after we had both agreed to not use them anymore. This was not a big deal since we had not used them in about 6 months.

That being said, the goal is to pay off the credit cards first. Thereby freeing up the 100 dollars in payment and earning 26 dollars per month by not having to pay it to the credit card company.

When you use credit cards, you are giving someone else control. It is typically harmless and mindless at first, but for a simple amount of say 2400 dollars (not much when charging items over time), you give up control for three years. Is it really worth it? It wasn't for me.

For me and my partner, the fix has been to retrain the mind. Delayed gratification is the big thing. That is the concept that when you want something, you should save for it and only purchase it when you can buy it with cash.

Time Management is Key

At a previous job, I used to have a very very long commute. I was driving about 90 minutes to work and sometimes close to 2 hours home in the evening commute because of traffic. At this point in my life, I already had a side business and found this to be quite frustrating because I felt that my time was being wasted -- and it was!

Surprisingly, most people do not use time efficiently. I am not suggesting that we are not productive enough; in fact, I think that sometimes we are too work-oriented. Instead, I am suggesting that we use time wisely.

We waste hours each week accomplishing nothing. And this 'lost time' is often the source of stress because we then still try to rush and get everything done in increasingly less time. Now what if you could get more done, in less time, and then even have time to spare?

With some simple techniques, tricks, and some practice, you will find it is possible to create time where there was none before. Check back here as I explore some tips and tricks I've used to make more out of my time.

Friday, April 14, 2006

What are you waiting for?

This week I asked myself this question when it came down to some of the major financial issues that I was having: "What am I waiting for?" And the more I thought about it, the answer was simple: nothing. Whatever it was that I was dreading (it was so awful that I've forgotten already) was handled. The dread was not truly being caused by having to do the task, but rather the fact that it wasn't done yet.

So, instead of procrastinating, I am going to make a simple pledge to try to procrastinate less. If there is something that I cannot do, then I will make a list and put the item on it. The goal is simple. If you can do it now, do it. If you can't, then get it out of your head so you can focus on the task at hand.

Being preoccupied is a huge waste of time for me. And I find that simple lists (I usually just open up notepad on my pc or use a scratch pad on my desk) really help clear my mind. And in the end, the more focused I am, the faster I get it done.

Satisfaction comes when I can look back at a list and say that I've done most of the stuff on it. This is something that is fairly simple, but the key is to be disciplined. And rewarding myself based on how well I've completed my tasks is a great incentive.

Learn a New Word Every Day

Personally, I run a side-business of doing web design and fixing computers. This is one of my inspirations for this blog. For my day job, I am an applications developer/analyst, again doing websites mostly. In both of these situations, I constantly find myself learning. If you don't learn or experience something new everyday, what are you doing?

I like learning new words. Vocabulary is something that is highly underrated. You don't need to be brilliant or have a fifteen ways to say something. But a diverse vocabulary can provide not just more ways of saying something. It can, in fact, provide you with more ways of thinking about something.

Becoming aware of vocabulary is not easy though. Personally, I find that I enjoy speaking and writing simply. But occasionally, it is nice to have options. If you want to learn a new word every day, go to Dictionary.com's site for their word of the day (launches in new window). Go there and bookmark it and check it every day or two. You will be shocked at how quickly your vocabulary grows, just by learning a word every day.

And if you are ever reading and find that you don't know the word's meaning, look it up. I also like Google for this; a search query on Google of define:constellation will provide links to definitions of the word constellation. This is something that is quite simple, since many people already use Google frequently.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Welcome to my Blog of Easy Changes

After a long time on livejournal, I thought that it would be time to try some of the other blogging tools out there. Most of all, this being the lead-in to Easter weekend, the beginning of Spring, and the start of warmer weather, it definitely feels like a time of new beginnings.

That is what this blog is all about. It is about my personal work on making myself better and improving my life and the lives of those around me.

And I'd like to provide you with some of the ideas of things that I have and things I am doing so that you can also benefit from this effort. Perhaps, you are even reading this because you have found yourself wanting many of the same things. If you do, read on! This might be a great place to start a new chapter in your life.